Spider-Man Homecoming - Spoiler Free Review
The Spiderman is no stranger to the big screen. Since 2002 we have seen 2 different actors portray the quippy web slinger in 5 Big Screen Blockbusters releases. Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield both received a mix of praise and criticism from critics but mostly fans. Some didn’t think Tobey did the source material justice and others thought Andrew Garfield was the shining light in a series that could have been handled better. Tom Holland is the latest actor to dawn the red and blue spandex and so far I think he was an excellent choice. His first appearance was in Captain America Civil War and although it was short, his introduction was fun and impactful. When Homecoming was announced, concerns quickly grew over how this Sony property would be responsibly integrated into the MCU. However, after seeing this movie, I feel like it’s safe to say that there isn’t much to worry about in the handling of Spider Mans future. Yes, there are certainly issues but Tom Holland isn’t one of them.
One of the biggest complaints about getting another Spider Man movie was that fans weren’t looking for an origins story. This character has been around for so long the story of how Peter gets his powers is as well known as how Bruce Wayne lost his parents. The other concerns fans had were the regurgitation of the Uncle Ben death, the big city web swinging, Mary Jane needing to be rescued, the Green Goblin as a Villain and not enough humor. I think it’s safe to say that the writers of Homecoming heard these concerns and approached their script accordingly. We meet Peter and it’s immediately apparent that he is Spider Man. We see him accomplishing little tasks around the city, including things like giving directions and recovering stolen bikes. We also get the Avengers tie-in almost immediately. At this stage in the MCU it would be a mistake to not lay the groundwork for Spider Man’s inclusion in Infinity Wars. Since Peter has already gone up to bat for Team Stark in Civil War it makes sense to have Tony Stark included in this film as a mentor to Peter. He’s a rich, powerful, intelligent nerd who is one of the worlds great saviors. I will say there were parts that seemed a little too in your face with the Avengers and Stark tie-ins but not enough to really take me out of the picture.
The story of Homecoming follows a young Peter Parker and his struggles with balancing his life as a rising hero and his responsibilities with school, his friends and family. While this balancing act isn’t new for the character, the way it's presented is. His responsibilities in school are almost the driving force of the film. His role in the academic decathlon alone plays as a key plot point in changing locations and presenting Peter with difficult choices time and time again. There were two major changes to the school setting that may or may not have been a good idea. One of these changes was Peter’s love interest. Instead of Mary Jane we get Liz (Laura Harrier) who is on the decathlon team with Peter. She is fine in the movie but she almost doesn’t get enough screen time to make their inevitable crush feel real to me. She plays two parts to the story however as her involvement is crucial to the final act of the movie.
The second big change to the school part of the story was Peter’s long time bully, Flash Thompson (Tony Revolori). In almost every adaptation of the comics and on screen portrayals of Spider Man, Flash is an oversized walking pile of jock with almost no brains. In Homecoming we get a small, obnoxious, less interesting (somehow) character who was so underdeveloped that he never once seemed to do the character justice, let alone get under Peter’s skin. Another big character change was the look of Aunt May, which some people took issue with. Normally she's portrayed as an older woman in her 60's-70's who normally comes off as more of a grandmother than an aunt. With Homecoming we get a younger, more sarcastic portrayal with Marissa Tomei. I personally didn't mind this choice but I know many comic fans did.
In my opinion, the best part of this movie was the villain. Wait… what did I just say? A Marvel movie with a great villain? Now don’t get me wrong, I loved Tom Hiddelston as Loki and Ultron as a fun, city destroyer, but these villains always have the same goal. Destroy everything because humans are dumb and unworthy of their existence. Michael Keaton nailed his role as the vulture perfectly. His motivation, while again not completely original, is rooted in his own ability to provide for his family and find his own little piece or success in this crazy world. When his way of life is threatened, he’s forced to take up a life of crime to enact his revenge and make some serious money at the same time. There is one scene in particular where Michael and Tom are forced into a closed space together and the exchange was so tense I could hear the entire theater gasp simultaneously. The fight scenes between Spider Man and the Vulture were fairly well done, mostly because there were stakes and you could feel the consequences for every right and wrong decision Peter made. There was some confusing fight choreography at times and it felt similar to watching a Transformers movie where your brain struggles to differentiate the limbs of the characters apart from the setting.
All in all this was easily one of my favorite movies of 2017 and definitely one of my favorite Spider Man movies. It was different, fun, humorous, and just what we needed to refresh the character. While it’s not a perfect film, they definitely provide plenty of fan service and it’s wonderful to see that the studios do listen to criticism from time to time. I can’t wait to see what’s next for Tom Holland in the upcoming Spider Man films as well as Infinity Wars.